Tortelier, Paul, noted French cellist, pedagogue, composer, and political idealist, father of Yan Pascal Tortelier; b. Paris, March 21, 1914; d. Villarceaux, Yve-lines, Dec. 18, 1990. He studied cello with Gérard Hekking at the Paris Cons., winning 1st prize at the age of 16. He made his debut with the Lamoureux Orch. at the age of 17; from 1935 to 1937 he was 1st cellist of the orch. in Monte Carlo; from 1937 to 1939 he was a member of the Boston Sym. Orch. He was subsequently 1st cellist of the Paris Cons. Orch. in Paris (1946-47). In 1947 he was a soloist at the Festival of Richard Strauss in London. Tortelier inherited his progressive ideals from his father, a cabinetmaker by profession and a Marxist by political persuasion. He participated in a number of organizations destined to create a better world-at-large; he was quite serious in his work to prevent aggression or injustices to countries governed by repressive rules. Although not a Jew, he saw great hope in the formation of individual communes in Israel and spent a year there working in a kibbutz (1955-56). He then resumed his career as a professional musician; also was a prof, at the Paris Cons. (1957-59) and at the Nice Cons. (1978-80). He made some appearances as a conductor. His wife, Maud Martin Tortelier, was also a cellist, and his daughter, Maria de la Pau, was a pianist; both appeared in performances of Tortelier’s works, which included Israel Symphony, several cello concertos, a Cello Sonata, and a Suite for Solo Cello. He publ. How I Play, How I Teach (London, 1975) and Paul Tortelier, Self-Portrait (with D. Blum; London, 1984).
—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire